L.A. STATE OF MIND - Born and raised in Los Angeles, Leonard has made it clear that he wants to play for his hometown Lakers at some point in his career. I guess their backdrop would be they get off DeRozan's contract.
The Raptors have never had a player quite like Kawhi Leonard before, assuming they have him now at all.
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The Raptors surely are hopeful that Leonard can be sold on the team's culture, on playing with point guard Kyle Lowry and the team's talented young bench, on the uptempo system new coach Nick Nurse is implementing.
Early morning Wednesday, DeRozan posted some vague messaging to his Instagram account that would suggest a trade could be imminent. Oh, and one of the key players the team got from the Nets in that deal was Alonzo Mourning, who refused to play for Toronto and was waived after a two-month standoff. DeRozan will nearly certainly give San Antonio more next year than Leonard gave the Spurs last year. This isn't likely a case of signing an injured DeMarre Carroll, and expensively whiffing on free agency. That means the Raptors are entering into this deal knowing that they could have given up a star like DeRozan for someone who might not be in Toronto for long.
By blowing it up, Ujiri isn't merely hoping that Leonard, a true MVP candidate when healthy, can be convinced to remain in Toronto beyond next season.
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A two-time All-NBA selection, Leonard also has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice.
The Raptors take on Leonard, who they must convince to stick around past the 2018-19 season. The team also boasts recent No. 2 picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, although both could conceivably be traded to add more veteran players around James. The only players locked down past the 2019 season are Norman Powell and OG Anunoby.
Leonard appeared in only nine games for the Spurs last season, during which the relationship between the All-Star and the team seemed strained and often tinged with frustration over the way he dealt with recovery from a right leg injury. He is a two-time All-Star and one of the best two-way players in the National Basketball Association when healthy. Multiple reports have said Leonard does not want to play in Toronto. If you love sports, know digital sales, and can throw your weight behind an aggressive commission based opportunity than we would love to talk to you.
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"Kawhi was a great teammate all the way through", Popovich said.